(part of a series on how I changed my life in 2011 for the better)
Last year I felt very out of balance. I felt like a chicken with my head cut off. I was running around like a maniac most of the time. My life was in chaos.
I wasn't doing any of it well.
I had way too much on my plate, and not enough time and somehow was constantly getting distracted by every bright shiny thing in my path.
I was teaching classes, shooting and editing sessions, blogging, facebooking, working part time, managing my house, kids, cars, and trying to be a good wife. And it wasn’t working. I was stressed, grumpy, burned out, and feeling guilty about my choices.
So this year I’ve made some big changes that I’ll share in a multi-part series.
This may be the hardest thing I’ve done but tuning out has really had a big impact. What do I mean by “tuning out”?
The first thing I did was stop visiting forums. Yes. Stopped. Cold turkey. It was hard. I love the online community and seeing what my peers are up to, what they think, what hot new product on the market was being discussed. But I found I would get sucked into drama – and hours would evaporate. Literally, poof.
The second thing I did was take back my weekends. I hardly get online at all on the weekends now. I usually don’t even boot up my computer. I do check email from my phone for emergencies and I scan Facebook when I’m in line or hanging around. BUT, my weekends are my family time and I no longer feel that I have to respond to every email or facebook message on the weekend anymore. Photography is such a personal business that sometimes it is hard to separate the personal and the business. But now my weekends belong to my family which has been very freeing and made me a MUCH better wife and mother. I cook, clean, take my kids to activities. I can just hang out while they swim and actually watch when they yell “watch this”. And all of this has made me more sane, more reasonable, and overall, a happier version of myself.
The third thing I did was stop visiting other blogs every day. I occasionally will look to see what a favorite friend has been up to. But I no longer feel the need to see what every photographer in my market is doing, what every photographer I ever met or ever heard of is doing. This is has not only bought back some time, but it frees my mind from the visual clutter I was filling it with. It also allows me a clearer state of mind because I don’t get myself all worked up over what this person is doing or the quality of that person’s work. I was creating all this negative energy in my life that was totally unnecessary. And I don’t miss it.
That said I learned quite a bit over the years from doing all the things I’m not doing now. There is a place for it. But if you find that your life is controlling you instead of you controlling it – take a weekend off the Internet and see what happens. You might feel that ache of withdrawal in the beginning – but feel refreshed and renewed at the end.